Lakers legend Kobe Bryant is a huge fan of the “Harry Potter” series, so perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that the first book series he created (along with author Wesley King), “The Wizenard Series: Training Camp,” seems heavily inspired by the J.K. Rowling books in it’s use of magical themes.
Bryant named his dog Crucio after one of the “Three Unforgivable Curses” in the novels, once said he would save his first edition of Harry Potter even if his house was burning down, and has compared the media to Voldemort as well as made tons of other Harry Potter references in interviews over the years.
He even dressed like this on Ellen:
But Bryant’s book isn’t exactly Harry Potter. It’s sort of like those books, mixed with “The Hunger Games,” and some other themes Bryant and King bring to the tale.
Now this is where I’m not going to lie to you and say I’ve read the whole book. I haven’t. I’m about seven pages in, and it’s actually pretty good so far. I would have zoomed through it in high school, when I didn’t have a full-time job and school obligations that don’t give me as much time as I’d like to read for enjoyment.
But from what I have read and researched, I can tell you that “Training Camp” is told through the perspectives of multiple characters. Bryant has said he most relates to the main one, Rain, and within the first few pages of reading about how Rain views his teammates, it’s pretty easy to see why (I won’t spoil it entirely, but let’s just say Rain doesn’t feel all that compelled to intervene when teammates are teasing each other because he thinks it will make them tougher when they take on their opponents, which is very Bryant).
It’s also interesting to see the amalgamation of some of his former coaches (especially Phil Jackson) in Rolabi Wizenard, the magic-wielding head coach of the basketball team at the center of the story.
For more insight than I can give you from my cursory read, though, the people over at Granity (Bryant’s production company) were nice enough to send over a handy press release with a bit more information about the book:
With THE WIZENARD SERIES, Bryant and King introduce readers to a diverse cast of young male characters, teammates on the West Bottom Badgers, a struggling inner-city basketball team. The worst team in the league, the Badgers could use a miracle. Instead, they get a mysterious new coach, Rolabi Wizenard, who mystically gifts each boy with the power to see the present and the future in order to build them into a cohesive, winning unit. Through Wizenard’s unorthodox and supernatural techniques, each player must compete in a series of daunting physical, emotional, and mental challenges, designed to illuminate their innermost selves. As the Badgers slowly start to improve as a team, the players come to realize that winning, losing, and teamwork are far more than just about athleticism and games.
THE WIZENARD SERIES is told from the perspective of five key players on the Badgers: Rain (the main character of the series and the character that Bryant most identifies with), Twig, Cash, Lab, and Peño. But rather than alternating chapters, each character has their own dedicated novella, sharing their individual challenges, fears, and hopes. The backdrop takes place over the course of a two-week basketball training camp, where readers get to know each character, their personal struggles, where they’ve come from, and where they may ultimately be going.
Filled with insights about the mental stamina and emotional clarity that peak performance requires, as well as the importance of empathy, teamwork, and mentorship, THE WIZENARD SERIES is an indispensable and original story for anyone interested in the astonishing potential of sports to unlock individual growth.
If a look into how Kobe views basketball development — along with some magic — sound like it might be up your alley, you can buy the book on Amazon here, as it releases today Tuesday, Mar. 19.